No More Prefab Holidays: Whether it's Business or Pleasure, Make Your Journey Unique

Taking the road less traveled, to paraphrase the great American poet Robert Frost, can make all the difference. These days so many vacation experiences are canned. From theme parks to touristy island getaways to cruises, you will find heavily marketed trips with big corporate bucks behind them. And you know exactly what to expect from beginning to end. But why not try something different, something unusual and unexpected, on your next business or pleasure journey? Here’s how:  

Take the Scenic Route

If you can afford to bookend your trip with an extra day or two, try to see some of the scenery along the way. Check out the “blue highways,” roads that are designated for their natural beauty, or arrive early or leave late and make some time to visit a national or state park in the area.

Go Ground: 

As a part of following that scenic route, there is no better way to take in the landscape than taking a train, bus, or car. The benefit of a train is that the rails often meander through lovely countryside, and you can sit back and just let it glide by (plus you can get a sleeper, if it’s an overnight journey). The bus is similarly a great (and affordable) way to see the country, and you have the benefit of stopping and getting out to stretch your legs. With both bus and train, there’s a good chance you will make friends along the way. And of course, by auto, you can change your route at any time, take along pets, and be footloose and fancy-free.

Ask the Locals: 

The very best way to learn about the insider spots is to strike up a conversation with a local. People love to share information about their hometown, so don’t be shy. Head to a diner or other local gathering spot and start asking. You’ll be amazed what you can learn that the guidebooks don’t tell you.

Look Online:

Do your due diligence and research online about a destination. The Internet is full of valuable information, if you are willing to take the time to weed through it. From individual travel journal blogs to full-blown travel sites, you can learn a huge amount about a place long before you even set foot there.

Pick Your Points of Interest: 

Do you love to bike? Picnic at a park? Do yoga? Are you a museum lover? Interested in local arts? Are you a runner? Or do you just like to settle into a coffee shop with a good book and cup of joe. Whatever your interests are at home, plan to practice some of these at your destination. By going and doing the things you love to do at home, you are immersing yourself in the local culture and will discover what is unique about your particular destination.

Walk About: 

In Australia, the aboriginals have a practice of going out for long walks that can last days or weeks, and these jaunts are called walkabouts. You can take the same concept on your next journey. Set out from your hotel by foot with a map (or not!), and just start to wander. This is especially rewarding if you are staying in a city center or scenic location, rather than on a strip. But even the most corporate of locations has some nugget to offer if you are willing to venture beyond the hotel grounds. Just remember where you went so that you can retrace your steps.

Try Something New: 

Afraid of heights? Try parachuting, a zipline, or parasailing. Skittish about swimming in the ocean? Sign up with a pro and grab a snorkel and mask or take a diving day trip. Or try a new type of food that you’ve never eaten. A vacation or out-of-town trip is the perfect opportunity to shed your concept of yourself and your fears and venture into the unknown. You will give yourself the opportunity to boost your ego and learn about yourself in the process.